To Le Manoir born...

A new week, new adventures. Yes I do realise how lucky I am. I know I’m lucky, I feel it everyday. Even on the most mundane dull days I feel it. I’m not the sort of person that takes anything for granted. I’m always shocked and delighted that my life turned out this way.

Not bad for someone that the careers teacher at school said was aiming too high with my desperate hankering to be a children’s Nanny and that she’d reviewed my paper work and it had come back with the suggestion that I should be a cleaner….now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being a cleaner, and at £15 an hour it’s more than I’ve ever earned, but I didn’t have my heart’s desire set on being a cleaner. I wanted to be a Nanny since I was 6 years old. I told her I would be one, she told me I definitely wouldn’t…

She was an absolute delight of a woman…(Mrs. Brown if you’re reading this - I’d be stunned if she was, the old witch must have been in her 70’s when I was at school, but on the off chance she’s still wandering about this planet might I suggest you think about lifting people up rather than beating them down, I never understood her, and the joy she seemed to take in her meanness, still don’t).

I am a trained NNEB trained nursery nurse, and was indeed a nanny before I was a mummy and then a granny. Hahahahaha

I might not be book smart, actually make that I’m definitely not book smart (that trip to Shakespeare country nearly half killed me with boredom), but I am determined, grateful and gutsy…in more ways than one now. ;)

I think they are my best attributes which stood me in good stead for taking on cancer and living life with a colostomy, amongst all the other things that life throws your way that you didn’t plan for or see coming.

So yes, just to be clear, I live in gratitude for this amazing life I have.

I had some cracking days out last week, starting with Monday I met up with Chris’s cousin, that we re-established contact with last year after she contacted me via my blog. :)

It’s so lovely for Chris to have blood relations back in his life. I love that they can reminisce like I do with some of my cousins…again I’m really lucky as I’ve got loads of them, and now Chris can enjoy that too.

So up I went to Selfridges in London to the rooftop restaurant. After wasting my time going up to the top floor only to find that access to Alto by San Carlo is actually via a lift on the ground floor I finally made my way there.

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(Me) Dress From Primark, Shoes from Russell and Bromley)

The restaurant is fabulous, totally would recommend. It’s a small plates concept and you order to share, I’m not great at sharing but I was on my best behaviour. Hahahahaha

The food was amazing. I was full without being bloated, which is always a bonus. :)

It was so lovely to catch up with Nikki, she’s such a lovely lady. I’m so happy for Chris. He used to idolise her as a child…she was the eldest of all the cousins and she had a swimming pool at her house so I guess that helped hahahahaha.

Then on Tuesday it was back up to London to stay in preparation for another trip out on the Belmond British Pullman on Wednesday morning.

I made a mistake in my blog last week, I said it’s ‘like’ the Orient Express, but I’ve since found out that it is what you would go on if you booked a trip from London to any of the destinations on the Orient Express, it’s the British leg of the trip. You’d get on the Belmond British Pullman to the Channel tunnel or ferry crossing then you’d pick up the Orient Express once you are in France.

I’ve also found out that I will never being going on the actual Orient Express for two very good reasons…1, it’s monstrously expensive, and 2, there are no showers or baths on board, you have to sleep in bunk beds and the toilet is down through some of the carriages at the end.

As I pee 2-5 times a night (due to 2 births, radiotherapy, damage due to bowel surgery and old age) I don’t think it’s the trip of a life time I assumed it would be!!

I can’t see clambering off the top bunk and trotting off for the loo every 2 hours is really for me.

Anyway, back to our day out. We had a fabulous day. The train was to Bath this time. It wasn’t a steam train on this occasion but the carriages are why you take the trip to start with so that wasn’t a problem.

Dress from Primark!! Yes!! Primark…£15 bargain of a dress. Shoes from Jimmy Choo, bag from TK (TJ) Maxx.

Dress from Primark!! Yes!! Primark…£15 bargain of a dress. Shoes from Jimmy Choo, bag from TK (TJ) Maxx.

I felt I looked a million dollars! I love this dress! It does rather prove you don’t need to spend big to look good too.

I felt I looked a million dollars! I love this dress! It does rather prove you don’t need to spend big to look good too.

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The train carriages are absolute works of art and a little slice of history. The carriage we travelled in for this trip was said to be the Queen Mother’s favourite. So if was good enough for her maj’s mum it’s good enough for me. Hahahahaha

Going to Bath was very special for Chris and I. It’s where we honeymooned. We were very young and very poor. But luckily we were given the use of a cottage that a cousin of Chris’s owned in Somerset not far from Bath, the cottage had a log burner that neither of us could get working. It was February, we got married on Valentine’s Day (yep, gut wrenchingly cute aren’t we!? Hahahahaha). Anyway we were so cold at the cottage that we went to the MacDonald’s in Bath to keep warm as we were too poor to do anything else.

Well jump forward 23 and a half years and we could actually go and enjoy all that Bath has to offer, if you’ve never been I thoroughly recommend a visit. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, with its sandstone Georgian buildings.

We experienced a very different Bath to what we had before. The Belmond train trip always comes with a guided tour of the destination, which means you get to actually find stuff out, and although the Shakespeare trip bored the life out of me I found this tour fascinating. Maybe because I’d been there many times but have never had the chance to go in any of the attractions.

So with our guests in tow we had a guided coach tour of the Royal Crescent, the Circus and then more importantly the Roman Baths! The big ticket item that we hadn’t ever been able to afford to go in way back when.

It’s great to have the guide because unless the subject matter is boring to start with they bring the history to life.

For example the couple that discovered Uranus lived there (stop sniggering and grow up! hahahahaha). Also we found out that the Georgians created Bath as a gambling town, and it boasted many casinos, it was the Las Vegas of its time, who knew!?

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The Roman Baths are incredible feats of engineering. They are the largest hot baths the Romans built in their entire empire due to the fact they had a plentiful supply of hot water from the natural hot springs. They were very clever those Romans.

The Roman Baths are incredible feats of engineering. They are the largest hot baths the Romans built in their entire empire due to the fact they had a plentiful supply of hot water from the natural hot springs. They were very clever those Romans.

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I packed walking shoes for the guided tour part of the trip. I appreciate Ferragamo sandals may well not be what some/most people would class as walking shoes but these little beauties have been amazing. They’ve walked everywhere from Cuba, America, Paris, Rome, Venice ,Turkey, India and many more. They may not be classic walking shoes but they are my walking shoes. Hahahahaha

People ask me if there’s anything you can’t do with a colostomy. I’ve had a think about it and I really don’t think there is. There’re things I can’t do because I’m cack handed and incapable but it’s not stoma related I can assure you.

As long as you pack a bag with spare supplies properly then anything is achievable.

We had the most magical trip with Mark and Mary. It was such a good laugh.

We overheard some people talking about the famous Sally Lunn Bath Bunns, so famous in fact that none of us four had ever heard of them, intrigued we set upon the task to find the shop. Or should I say Ye olde shoppe (they’ve been making them since 16 something).

You can tell it’s all old and fancy because they come individually boxed.

Eaten straight from the box, as we did in a pub garden they taste like an un-iced iced bun. Toasted they tasted exactly the same as normal white bread.

Can’t say I was blown away but then who doesn’t love toasted white bread! Hahahahaha

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And then Thursday came and we headed up to Nottingham Trent University for a very special occasion.

The graduation of our fake daughter Leonie, (the one I went to Venice with a few weeks back). She has a perfectly lovely, loving family at home but she’s very special to us too, she’s one of our son Ben’s besties.

Leonie wanted us to share in her big day too. And in her case it was a big big day, I’d say she struggled but that doesn’t even come close to it. She did struggle but struggling is only half the story. It seemed so bleak for her, she wanted to quit hundreds of times. But this kid battled on, which speaks volumes about her ability and tenacity. People around her may have encouraged her on and supported her but she’s the one that stuck it out even through some of the darkest days.

She hated being away from home, she didn’t particularly like the course, she didn’t ever settle, you may well have seen her living it up and partaking in the night life that uni has to offer but looks can be deceptive, especially in this world of social media make believe - partying doesn’t equal happiness.

I’m so impressed by her that she stuck it out, that she passed the course and that she now has letters after her name. Miss Leonie BSc….oooooh so fancy!!

What do you wear to “not your daughter’s graduation” day.

I found this little cracker in Topshop in my local town, reduced to £25 and in my size. Which is a shock in itself as Topshop is a young brand that makes clothes in what I can only describe as child sizes in comparison to my hulking great lump of a body. (You might detect some disgust and distress at the fact that I have still been unable to shift any weight, my distress at this fact got worse the other day when I discovered my BMI is 27.2 and my body fat is literally off the chart!! Mortified, absolutely mortified.

Anyway I digress, back to Leonie’s big day. We couldn’t go into the actual ceremony but it was being live streamed in a pub just up the road so we watched with pride as she collected her very impressive award.

Dress from Topshop, Shoes and bag from Valentino Roackstuds

Dress from Topshop, Shoes and bag from Valentino Roackstuds

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A photo with her real mum and me, her fake one. :)  Such a clever and brave young lady, now with letters after her name and a certificate to prove it!

A photo with her real mum and me, her fake one. :)

Such a clever and brave young lady, now with letters after her name and a certificate to prove it!

I love the movement in this dress. The style and pattern were perfect for covering up my bag. And I loved the 3 splits up the front, it just made a very elegant dress feel a little bit sassy. :)

I love the movement in this dress. The style and pattern were perfect for covering up my bag. And I loved the 3 splits up the front, it just made a very elegant dress feel a little bit sassy. :)

I bought the bag from Valentino when I was on a shopping day trip with Leonie years ago, and I wanted to incorporate it into my outfit. Funnily enough I noticed that she had chosen to wear the little bangle we bought for her 21st birthday into her her outfit too.

I bought the bag from Valentino when I was on a shopping day trip with Leonie years ago, and I wanted to incorporate it into my outfit. Funnily enough I noticed that she had chosen to wear the little bangle we bought for her 21st birthday into her her outfit too.

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Leonie’s big day was exactly as it should be, full of people who adore and admire her. And it was super special because her grandparents were there too, and I’ve never met anyone more dedicated to their grandparents ever. Their bonds are very special. It’s absolutely beautiful.

We also were able to bring a surprise with us as one of her best friends, Arabella had asked us if she could come up to surprise Len. Which we thought was a lovely idea.

Hopefully Leonie will now realise she is capable and strong and that the world is her oyster…but for God’s sake do not ask her what she’s going to do with her degree now! Hahahahaha

She’s just going to chill out and unwind from the knotted coil of stress she has been in for the last 3 years.

The face of a woman that never intends to learn anything ever again. Hahahahaha

The face of a woman that never intends to learn anything ever again. Hahahahaha

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of Len’s family, mainly her mum and dad for firstly allowing us to come along and share in her big day and for making us feel welcome and part of it. xx

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of Len’s family, mainly her mum and dad for firstly allowing us to come along and share in her big day and for making us feel welcome and part of it. xx

And then the weekend came and we were off for a wonderful trip away.

We were lucky enough to take some clients out for an incredible experience at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, it’s part of the Belmond group that run the trains we take clients on.

The restaurant is a 2 Michelin star feasting extravaganza. And this year I was able to partake in the 8 course taster menu. Last year I wasn’t quite as keen as I have a very very simple palette, and it was all too fancy for me, fish finger sandwiches are my personal favourite, and they’re not likely to be served any time soon by Raymond Blanc!

Our room in the hotel was mind blowingly good. The whole place is heavenly.

What to wear to somewhere super fancy, well for my liking something super casual if possible. I felt emboldened by the fact that I had constipation, yes, constipation can dictate an outfit in my world. I’ll take my wins where I can, and on this particular occasion constipation is a win! Hahahahaha

I knew I was unlikely to have a bag leak as I had been so busy in the build up to the weekend I hadn’t really drunk enough water. So I felt white skinny jeans were perfectly safe. Besides if I had suddenly sprung a leak I would be quite able to go to my room and change it.

I wore these cute little ballet pumps, Chris came home from a meeting in London last week and had been passing the shop and decided to stop and buy me a pair.

I trust him with my heart, my life and most importantly of all with the purchasing of shoes, bags and jewellery. ;) Hahahahaha

Le Manoir is a spectacularly beautiful place, full of hidden treasures and sculptures. It really is a very restful place to be. But then Oxfordshire itself is a very restful place.

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Top from Armani, Jeans from Topshop, Shoes from Pretty Ballerina’s, bag from Goyard.

Top from Armani, Jeans from Topshop, Shoes from Pretty Ballerina’s, bag from Goyard.

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For our evening meal there I needed something I’d be able to eat in. Seems obvious but I’ve been foolish enough in the past to think I could get away with tight fitting clothes to eat in, I have now learned from my mistakes. Pancaking is a common side effect of foolishness.

If my clothes are too tight the poo has nowhere to go but to start backing up. Pancaking is the term used for a leak at the entry hole of the bag.

Dress from Kate Spade, Shoes from Jimmy Choo

Dress from Kate Spade, Shoes from Jimmy Choo

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The meal was incredible! 8 courses of amazingness! (Can’t think why I’m struggling to lose weight, can you?).

They’re not massive portions of course, even I’m not that greedy. But they are taste sensations.

This dress worked a treat, as it has room to poo in, which is mainly what I’m looking for in clothing. A startling revelation for the unbagged I imagine.

I want to look and feel good but my life needs mean I have to have clothes that cater for my growing bag throughout the day, but especially at meal times.

This is the most perfect easy wear, sling it on dress.  £8 from Primark, it’s not only perfect it’s proper cheap too, which in my mind only adds to its perfection.

This is the most perfect easy wear, sling it on dress.

£8 from Primark, it’s not only perfect it’s proper cheap too, which in my mind only adds to its perfection.

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I knew this dress would be ideal to bring here. It was great for going to breakfast and fitting in more food. (Dear lord!!?!).

After a yet another incredible breakfast we said goodbye to our guests and we headed to Bicester village for a little mooch.

Chris spoilt me, (raise your hand if that’s come as a surprise to anyone? Anyone? No, ok, fair enough). Hahahahaha

I am very spoilt, I’m lucky to have a husband that treats me like a queen. (No, I agree, I literally can’t understand how I got this lucky either!?)

Anyway I’ve been searching for some navy shoes for ages and finally found some I really loved. And then after that I found a shoe that I’ve been looking for for ages!

When we went to the Christian Dior exhibition a few months back there was a shoe that both Michelle, my friend, and I really loved but they don’t make at the moment, these fashions go in cycles. Well Bicester village came up trumps as I found exactly what I was looking for! Happy, lucky me!

I’m a very happy bunny right now, a fat one yes, but a very happy one. :)

Then Monday this week brought with it a rather special day. I met up with the incredible Bowel Warrior, Beth Purvis for a cuppa and a chat. Quite a long chat as it turns out. It was absolutely fantastic and time just got away from us.

Beth is the one that brought attention to young age bowel cancer diagnosis to the public fore, first on social media with her collages and then The Daily Mail picked it up and ran with it.

That in itself will have saved lives, but Beth does so much more than that, she’s co written a bowel cancer symptoms diary with Bowel Cancer UK to help bring awareness to this rotten bastard disease. She’s been part of a teaching aid for GP’s across the country to access to help them diagnose bowel cancer earlier by recognising the signs better, plus she writes a column in her local news paper bringing further awareness for the need of earlier detection. She is incredible. Having been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer she could well have thought of just doing things for herself and who could blame her but there she is, with some others I follow on social media in a similar situation bringing awareness to young age diagnosis, which will lead to people getting checked sooner.

I for one was happy and honoured to help out with her campaign. To me she is a hero, as much as she will be embarrassed and appalled by that title. Xx

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